Montreal Bike Expo 2006
(updated: Sep 12, 2006)
Sep 9, 2006 -- The Montreal Bike Expo
Ed and I decided a while back to attend the Montreal Bike Expo to see if we could find someone to make the PV Gliders, or get us in touch people who might be able to. We knew there was manufacturing in Canada and what the heck, maybe by networking here within the bike industry we could get something going. We are trying to stay within the bike industry and not the toy industry and please don't ask me to explain but there are very good reasons for this.
So how did we find Montreal? Let's start with the expo itself. We got there just before it opened. We were carrying two PV Gliders. I don't know if you've seen these bikes yet, but they are highly eye catching. I mean, you can't not notice them. Everybody was looking at them, including the expo nazis, who refused to let us into the show with them because we were not bike dealers, and the show was for dealers, yada, yada. They said we could buy a booth for $1000. I'll get to why $1000 for a 10 X 10 booth is not worth it for this show in a moment, but for now, we just put the bikes aside and went on in.
Definitely the highlight of the show for me was talking with Cedric Gracia about Commencal and the new DH bike I didn't get to ride (more on that later). I didn't even realize it was him until I read his name tag. Really nice guy and pretty much the best rider on the planet.
After that I gave a short spin on the bike hooked up to a watt meter on which I produced 1039 Watts. Not bad, but I went back later and someone had done 1497 Watts.
Later I tried a new type of crank with a planetary gear in it so that every rotation of the crank produced more than one rotation of the chainring. So it produced a smoother motion with no dead zones and used a smaller chainring. I tried climbing one of the alps courses on the high-end video simulator they had and it felt really smooth pedaling it. Hard to describe so you have to try it to understand.
But really we were there to find out if there was anyone in Canada who could make bikes for us. So what did we find? Well for one we found out that except for one or two companies such as DeVinci, nobody makes bikes here anymore. They farm manufacturing out to the far east. Kind of hypocritical that much of the bike industry, an industry which prides itself on selling quality products through local bike shops and not department stores such as Wal-Mart, is making everything in the some of the very same places as Wal-Mart sold brands. There's probably only half a dozen factories that make all the bikes overseas and they just have a plastic divider between them.
Then we get all the questions and comments. Apparently, people from Montreal don't like Americans. Maybe they saw our tags and realized that they couldn't sell to us so why not either ignore us or grill us instead. "What are you doing here?" "You're from the states?" "You're a long way from home." "You need to go to Mexico." "Have you looked into China?" "You need to go to toy shows in the far east." "You need to go to Eurobike." "Why Canada?" "You need to find a plastics manufacturer." "You need to go to the far east." "No we don't manufacture here." And so on until we started asking ourselves what the heck are we doing here. Should we just give in and make it out of metal? Apparently, metal = bike, plastic = toy.
And then there's the locals. They speak French. Strike number one. They all wear coats and hats when it's not even cold yet. Nobody wears shorts. That's just weird. If anyone should be wearing a jacket it should be one of us as we're from way down south. Strike two. They will run your ass over in a car if they could. And they smoke like chimneys while complaining about fat Americans. Strike three. Needless to say you start to get a bad vibe.
That is not to say it's all bad in Montreal. Not at all. There's some things that Americans can really learn from this city, like bicycling. Everyone bikes. There are bikes everywhere. There are bike lanes everywhere, including separate lanes from the street. I was blown away. It is a well-known fact that Canadiens love bikes, and they are very good at riding them too.
There's also the beer. It's very good and contains more alcohol, 10% or more, so you can enjoy one or two quality beers instead of a dozen cans of watered down rocky mountain moose urine (sorry, life's too short to drink bad beer).
It's easy to start a conversation with a Quebecan (as they prefer to be referred to. They don't like being called French-Canadians). Just mention that you're from America or say something about the exchange rate. Then you'll have something in common as you laugh about how bad Bush has screwed America.
Just the bike riding alone is enough to get me to move to Montreal (I can even speak French a little). I'll just deal with the cold. The people are not as rude as Americans. We had to make a stop in D.C. on the way so I could get an official copy of my birth certificate as I needed proof of citizenship to cross the border (turns out they never asked for it). That place has really gone downhill. There's too many people, and they're rude. I'd much rather live in Montreal.
Saturday was bike demo day at Ski Bromont. The start of the demo seen here had the best weather of the day. It rapidly deteriorated from then on, making riding conditions treacherous. However the downhill riding was on absolutely amazing terrain. Super technical and steep, with drops, teeters, and ladders on the way down the double black diamond trails. This is why Canadians are such good riders. The first time I got stuck on an "all-mountain" bike from KHS that was way not enough bike for these trails. I thought 6" would be sufficient but it wasn't.
Yours truly on the XC trails.
The cool teeter-totter that later broke. The conditions were so bad (pouring rain, fog, and really dark) that I couldn't get a decent picture of the DH trails.
We are such a muddy mess. I had gobs of mud caked on my seat and rear. It was ridiculous.
View of Montreal from the bridge. There is a park below this bridge with a long bike trail on it.
Another view of the city.
This is the place we stayed. It was really small.
Bike lanes. Real bike lanes. Why doesn't America get it? We are wasting our natural resources.
Another shot. Even has an inline skating symbol next to the bike symbol.
Commencal's new DH bike. Really good-looking ride.
It has an adjustable head angle.
Also an adjustable chainstay.
I love the design because it has a low center of gravity. Initially I thought the tire clearance wasn't enough between the tire and shock and the shock would get caked with mud but when you sit on it you get plenty of clearance. Too bad I didn't get to ride this bike at the demo. There were way more riders than bikes.
Me with Cedric, who rides for Commencal now.
A 12 lb road bike. Sick.
Me with the Turner Highline. I didn't even know they had one here. It was in the Intense booth!
Bikes. Bikes. Bikes. The show was small compared to Interbike. There didn't seem to be that many people there. And it seemed like only geared to the Canadian market, so $1000 for a booth is too much considering an I-bike booth is $2000 and that show is at least 5X bigger.
Crescent Street = tourist area.
Later that evening we went to an industry party and preview of Cranked 6 which showed some unbelievable riding to some really good music. They didn't show the entire video - they are premiering it at I-bike, but what I saw I liked enough to buy it. Let me know if you want a copy and I'll pick them up at I-bike at the special rate.
1. ERX said...
Too bad about the lack of manufacturing for the PV Glider, but keep trying. It's a good idea, and it will be successful someday.
I love your comment about the beer (life is too short to drink bad beer). Nancy and I say that all the time!
Sep 12, 2006 @ 9:32 AM
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